Against the Managerial State: Preventive Policing as Non-Legal Governance

Abstract

Since at least the 1980s, police departments in the United States have embraced a set of practices that aim, not to enable the prosecution of past criminal activity, but to discourage (or even prevent) people from breaking the law in the first place. It is not clear that these practices effectively lower the crime rate. However, whatever its effect on the crime rate, I argue that preventive policing is essentially distinct from legal governance, and that excessive reliance on preventive policing undermines legal governance. To show this, I emphasize law’s unique aptitude to define legal subjects’ ‘manifest’ status relations – that is, the rights and obligations that live within their local practices. I then argue, first, that preventive policing does not aim to define these relationships; and second, that excessive preventive policing threatens the relationship that law must bear with its subjects if law is to define their manifest relations authoritatively.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015), p. 59.

  2. 2.

    See especially Franklin E Zimring, The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012); Charles R Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody, and Donald Haider-Markel, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014).

  3. 3.

    Annabelle Lever, ‘Racial Profiling and the Political Philosophy of Race’, in Naomi Zack (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017): pp. 425–435, at pp. 426–427.

  4. 4.

    As a result, much of the literature on preventive policing focuses on the moral evaluation of racial profiling. See, for instance, Lever, ‘Racial Profiling and the Political Philosophy of Race’; Naomi Zack, White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Racial Profiling and Homicide (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015).

  5. 5.

    Randall Kennedy, Race, Crime, and the Law (New York: Pantheon Books, 1997), p. 154.

  6. 6.

    B. Harcourt, ‘Rethinking Racial Profiling: A Critique of the Economics, Civil Liberties, and Constitutional Literature, and of Criminal Profiling More Generally’, University of Chicago Law Review 71(4) (2004): pp. 1275–1381, at pp. 121–125; David A. Harris, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (New York: The New Press, 2003): pp. 223–225; Zack, White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Racial Profiling and Homicide, pp. 48–51. Cited in Lever, ‘Racial Profiling and the Political Philosophy of Race’, p. 432.

  7. 7.

    See Zimring, The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control; Epp, Maynard-Moody, and Haider-Markel, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship, p. 32.

  8. 8.

    Douglas Husak, ‘Policing and Racial Discrimination: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bath Water’, in The Ethics of Policing and Imprisonment, ed. Molly Gardner and Michael Weber (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018): pp. 87–107.

  9. 9.

    Though I focus primarily on legal governance in the main text, I sometimes will engage with theories of the Rule of Law in footnotes. That is because I take ‘the Rule of Law’ to name an ideal of legal governance, one built into the idea of law itself. For this view of the Rule of Law, see Lon Fuller, The Morality of Law (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964); Jeremy Waldron, ‘The Concept and the Rule of Law’, Georgia Law Review 43(1) (2008): pp. 1–61. For a contrasting view, see Joseph Raz, ‘The Rule of Law and Its Virtue’, in The Authority of Law: Essays on Law and Morality (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), pp. 210–229.

  10. 10.

    Postema advances this kind of approach at Gerald J. Postema, ‘Law’s Rule: Reflexivity, Mutual Accountability, and the Rule of Law’, in Xiao Zhai and Michael Quinn (ed.), Bentham’s Theory of Law and Public Opinion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014): pp. 7–39, at p. 16. See also Paul Gowder, The Rule of Law in the Real World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 568–569.

  11. 11.

    Matthew Kramer is among the most prominent advocates of this conception of law. See Matthew H. Kramer, In Defense of Legal Positivism: Law Without Trimmings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); Matthew Kramer, ‘On the Moral Status of the Rule of Law’, in Where Law and Morality Meet (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004): pp. 172–222; Matthew Kramer, Objectivity and the Rule of Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). For critique, see Nigel Simmonds, Law as a Moral Idea (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

  12. 12.

    See (among others) Joseph Raz, ‘Authority, Law, and Morality’, The Monist 68 (1985): pp. 295–324; Scott Shapiro, ‘On Hart’s Way Out’, in Hart’s Postscript: Essays on the Postscript to The Concept of Law, ed. Jules Coleman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 149–491.

  13. 13.

    Some go so far as to argue that law essentially serves an expressive function. See especially Elizabeth Anderson and Richard H Pildes, ‘Expressive Theories of Law: A General Restatement’, University of Pennsylvania Law Review 148, no. 5 (2000): pp. 1503–1575. I am sympathetic to this approach; here, however, I rely only on the weaker claim that legal systems characteristically have an expressive dimension.

  14. 14.

    Joel Feinberg, ‘The Expressive Function of Punishment’, Monist 49 (1965): pp. 397–423. See also Jean Hampton, ‘The Moral Education Theory of Punishment’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 13 (1984): pp. 208–238; R. Antony Duff, Trials and Punishments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

  15. 15.

    Fuller, The Morality of Law, pp. 163–164.

  16. 16.

    Fuller, p. 163.

  17. 17.

    Kramer, In Defense of Legal Positivism: Law Without Trimmings, p. 59.

  18. 18.

    For an approach that emphasizes dignity, see Waldron, ‘The Concept and the Rule of Law’; Jeremy Waldron, The Dignity of Legislation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Jeremy Waldron and Meir Dan-Cohen, Dignity, Rank, and Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). For approaches that emphasize liberty (construed as non-domination), see Simmonds, Law as a Moral Idea; Frank Lovett, A Republic of Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016). For an egalitarian approach, see Gowder, The Rule of Law in the Real World.

  19. 19.

    Compare Stephen Darwall, ‘Law and the Second-Person Standpoint’, Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 40 (2007): pp. 891–909.

  20. 20.

    Stephen L Darwall, ‘Two Kinds of Respect’, Ethics 88(1) (1977): pp. 36–49.

  21. 21.

    Darwall, p. 38.

  22. 22.

    See, for instance, Arthur Ripstein, Force and Freedom (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2009), pp. 168–172.

  23. 23.

    See, for instance, Jeremy Waldron, ‘Kant’s Legal Positivism’, Harvard Law Review 109, no. 7 (2013): pp. 1535–1566; Gerald J. Postema, ‘Integrity: Justice in Workclothes’, Iowa Law Review 82 (1996): pp. 821–855.

  24. 24.

    ‘Manifest relations’ are akin to what Rebecca Kukla calls ‘material social statuses’. I opt for ‘manifest relations’ in order to avoid any confusion over the kind of materiality at issue. Rebecca Kukla, ‘Discursive Injustice’, Hypatia 29, no. 2 (2014): pp. 440–457, at p. 443.

  25. 25.

    On this point, I follow Kukla, p. 443.

  26. 26.

    Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality (Berkeley: Crossing Press, 1983), pp. 93–94.

  27. 27.

    Frye, pp. 88–89.

  28. 28.

    Frye, pp. 84–85. I should emphasize that the ‘concept of Woman’ that Frye critiques is not the only concept of womanhood at work in our societies. To imply that gender simply is a matter of one’s place within a sexist social hierarchy would be to miss a great deal of the rich complexity of gender identity.

  29. 29.

    For a discussion of the connections between liberty and the social conditions of respect, see John Lawless, ‘Gruesome Freedom: The Moral Limits of Non-Constraint’, Philosophers Imprint 18, no. 3 (2018), pp. 1–19.

  30. 30.

    This enables us to clarify the relationship between the recognitive conception of legal governance that I sketch in this section, and egalitarian conceptions of law. To attribute to legal subjects an interest in respect is to accord them a weak kind of equality: It is to cast them as persons (possessed of status relations with other persons), rather than mere objects or tools. But I have remained neutral about which status relations, specifically, people morally enjoy. Egalitarian conceptions of law typically go further than this. For instance, Gowder’s egalitarian conception of the Rule of Law sets itself against substantive inequality – that is, against castes. Gowder’s egalitarian conception thus seems to specify the kinds of status relations that people bear with one another in a fully legal system, at least to some extent. I do not assume Gowder’s substantive egalitarianism in this paper. We will articulate our critique of preventive policing without making any assumptions about the structures of people’s moral relations, and so without adopting an egalitarian conception of law.

  31. 31.

    Lon Fuller, ‘Human Interaction and the Law’, in Kenneth Winston (ed.), The Principles of Social Order, (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1981): pp. 231–166; Gerald Postema, ‘Implicit Law’, Law and Philosophy 13(3) (1994): pp. 361–387.

  32. 32.

    For a classic argument along these lines, see H L A Hart, The Concept of Law (Oxord: Oxford University Press, 1961): pp. 89–91.

  33. 33.

    This is a natural point at which we might connect our recognitive conception of legal governance to dignitarian or egalitarian approaches. See especially Waldron, ‘The Concept and the Rule of Law’.

  34. 34.

    Compare Joel Feinberg, ‘The Nature and Value of Rights’, The Journal of Value Inquiry 4(4) (1970): pp. 243–260.

  35. 35.

    Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (New York: Penguin, 2009).

  36. 36.

    James Q Wilson, ‘Just Take Away Their Guns’, New York Times Magazine (New York, March 1994).

  37. 37.

    Jerry H Ratcliffe and Evan T Sorg, Foot Patrol: Rethinking the Cornerstone of Policing (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2017), p. 2; citing I.K. Mackenzie and R. Whitehouse, ‘The Approachability of Police Officers Patrolling on Foot: A Pilot Study’, Policing and Society 5, no. 4 (1995): pp. 339–347.

  38. 38.

    Ratcliffe and Sorg, p. 15.

  39. 39.

    Peter Moskos, Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 203; quoted in Ratcliffe and Sorg, Foot Patrol: Rethinking the Cornerstone of Policing, p. 64.

  40. 40.

    B. Ariel, C. Weinborn, and L.W. Sherman, ‘‘Soft’ Policing at Hot Spots: Do Police Community Support Officers Work? A Randomized Controlled Trial’, Journal of Experimental Criminology 12, no. 3 (2016): p. 3; quoted in Ratcliffe and Sorg, Foot Patrol: Rethinking the Cornerstone of Policing, p. 5.

  41. 41.

    Many have defended this claim from various angles. For a small sample, see Vesla M Weaver, ‘Frontlash: Race and the Development of Punitive Crime Policy’, Studies in American Political Development 21 (2007): pp. 230–265; Epp, Maynard-Moody, and Haider-Markel, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship; Charles Mills, The Racial Contract (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997); Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America; Angela J Davis, ed., Policing the Black Man (New York: Pantheon Books, 2017); Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2012).

  42. 42.

    George Yancy, Look, a White!: Philosophical Essays on Whiteness (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012), p. 155; George Yancy, Black Bodies, White Gazes, Second (Lanham, MD: Littlefield, Rowman &, 2016), p. 4.

  43. 43.

    Yancy, Black Bodies, White Gazes, p. 4.

  44. 44.

    Elizabeth Anderson, ‘Outlaws’, The Good Society 23, no. 1 (2014): p. 104.

  45. 45.

    Quoted in Daniel Bergner, ‘Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It?’, The Atlantic (2014).

  46. 46.

    Epp, Maynard-Moody, and Haider-Markel, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship, pp. 138–143. Along similar lines, Murphy argues that violations of the Rule of Law are liable to foster distrust of the state among legal subjects. Colleen Murphy, ‘Lon Fuller and the Moral Value of the Rule of Law’, Law and Philosophy 24(3) (2005): pp. 239–262, at p. 245.

  47. 47.

    Lever advances a similar critique of racial profiling in ‘Racial Profiling and the Political Philosophy of Race’.

  48. 48.

    To be sure, informal norms are apt to fill in many of the gaps within communities that the legal system abandons, which caricatures of black neighborhoods as ‘lawless’ typically ignore. Elijah Anderson, Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City (New York: W. W. Nortion, 1999).

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Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Ritwik Agrawal, H. Bondurant, Patrick Connolly, David Cummiskey, Finnur Dellsén, Luke Elson, Matthew Kramer, Daniel Layman, Sean McKeever, Daniel Moseley, Gerald Postema, Nathaniel Sharadin, Susan Stark, Alec Walen, and two anonymous referees, for comments and discussion.

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Lawless, J. Against the Managerial State: Preventive Policing as Non-Legal Governance. Law and Philos 39, 657–689 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10982-020-09379-2

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